Breastfeeding; It takes a village by Jennie Harmsworth @feedinstyle
My introduction to breastfeeding came via an NCT breastfeeding session a few weeks before my due date. Picture 10 adults sitting on primary school chairs holding a knitted boob and toy cabbage leaves! We giggled like children about why boobs portrayed in breastfeeding media are always more “1970’s hippy” rather than “Jennifer Aniston in the Friends days”!
To be honest, I’m not really sure how much useful information I really took home with me. We didn’t talk about cluster feeding or growth spurts, or what it’s like when your milk comes in - you know, useful stuff!
As my due date approached we bought a bottle feeding starter kit (because it was on offer) and premixed bottles of formula on advice from a friend. I was keen to breastfeed, yet everything we did seemed to be on the basis of not being able to! The consensus seemed to be “I’ll give it a go and if it doesn’t work we’ll use formula”. What made me think it wouldn’t work?
Lennie was breech so we chose to have an elective C-section. I'd been told that breastfeeding after a caesarean is harder (again set up to fail) - but Lennie had other ideas.
As soon as we were out of theatre she was wriggling around on my chest, found a nipple and was on! It was a weird sensation, almost painful without actually hurting, and she wanted it all the time! So I went with it and simply trusted that she knew what she was doing. A new born baby that knew more about breastfeeding than her mum!
Lennie gained weight well after birth, we had no latch issues, no tongue tie, no nipple issues, no blocked ducts and no mastitis. Despite this good fortune I still found that breastfeeding a new-born was HARD!
But why is it so hard? I mean let’s face it breastfeeding is one of the reasons the human race survived to the point it was capable of developing an alternative. Women have breastfed since time began. It’s basic and it’s primitive and I think that’s part of the problem.
I am not a primitive person; most new mums today aren’t either. We like to have long showers and to condition our hair. We like to keep the house clean and to be invited out to eat nice things in nice places with nice people.
If you think about a basic society, a village, an extended family, a breastfeeding mother wouldn’t have to cook and clean and care for her other children there would be other women to help with those things. Food would be provided for her and she wouldn’t be invited ‘out’ because there is no ‘out’. It doesn’t take a village to raise a baby, it takes a village to successfully breastfeed a baby!
I genuinely feel the reason that breastfeeding has been successful for us so far is because of my ‘village’. My husband believed in it totally (and was fine with missing out on feeding Lennie as he became the most well rested new father ever!). I was breastfed and so was my husband so our families were supportive and encouraging as well.
I had support from friends too. Other mum friends who were a little ahead of me told me about cluster feeding and the best nursing vests, whilst non-mum friends laughed with me when they saw jets of milk squirting Lennie in the face.
I fed Lennie on demand and talked about breastfeeding all the time - I’m sure I bored everyone! But it got easier, things settled down, Lennie was good at it and I was good at it and here we are 9 months later.
I still haven’t slept through the night and I find that on one day she’ll feed 4 times in total whilst on other days she’ll feed 4 times before 10am. But that’s the relationship Lennie and I have right now and I love it.
Check out Jennie's website www.feedinstyle.com for breastfeeding friendly fashion.